In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, “The Gift of Being Grand” was launched to help grandparents share their faith with their adult children, grandchildren, and the world. As part of Rediscover, “The Gift of Being Grand” began with an initial conference held on the Feast of St. Monica, August 27th. Three hundred and fifty people attended this conference which included ten speakers and six breakout sessions.
Crystal Crocker, the Interim Director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, said, “I think the whole day was quite surprising to the grandparents, that they would be addressed in a group in this way…We started the morning with the thought that ‘secular society says that grandparents aren’t needed anymore.’ When we said, ‘That isn’t true,’ you should have seen the smiles that came on their faces!”
Drawing from Sacred Scripture, the event focused on the role of grandparents as those who are to pass on their faith to their children and their children’s children. Crystal explained that grandparents “are still attending Mass on Sundays and they are very prayerful; they are a demographic that has a lot of experience and wisdom within their faith.”
Sharing the depth of their faith with not only their adult children, but also their grandchildren is a powerful way to reignite the light of Christ in the younger generations. Besides the parents, grandparents have the next closest relationship to their grandchildren and Crystal related that “they have the next best opportunity to reach in and influence their grandchildren. They may even get a second chance while they are doing that to witness to their adult children as well.”
“The Gift of Being Grand” further provides grandparents with a supportive community from which to reach out with the Good News. Grandparents desire to share the faith and Crystal related that “their desire is to be more involved with their families and with passing on the faith because they do have that wisdom…But they don’t want to intrude and maybe there is some situation…where their adult children are not practicing [the faith] at all and are blocking the grandparents from passing on or talking about the faith…In all the different scenarios that they may be dealing with — that they are being rejected by their adult children in some way — it is really important to come together in a community of prayer and support.”
Building upon this, “The Gift of Being Grand” seeks to foster parish-based grandparent ministries that bring together grandparents in prayer for their families, for their grandchildren, and for the parish. These parish-based grandparent ministries can also tap into resources offered by the Archdiocese like a workshop on intentional prayer or one with actual resources (Books, DVD’s, and games) to use with their grandchildren to share the faith.
And, at the core of all of this, Crystal stressed the importance of intentional prayers and relationships.
“If the situation is one where their adult child is rejecting the faith in some way, Grandparents really need to be praying intentionally for God to come into that child’s heart; they need to pray for themselves that they can be Jesus to that child because…[the child] might not be seeing Jesus in the people they know, the friends they are making, and the choices they are making. We encourage grandparents to be influencers and to lead with grace in their situation. They can no longer parent their adult child like they used to; they have to give up that control and have faith, through prayer, that God is working. But, they can do things like being positive, asking for forgiveness for any relationship wounds that may have occurred in the past, and by asking to go forward and work on that relationship. Evangelization, or even just talking about the faith, can’t occur unless they have a relationship first. We encourage them to work on the relationships with their adult children so that they can influence them by just being prayerful and going to Mass.”
For more information on how you might be able to bring a grandparents ministry to your parish, please go to the Rediscover website. Along with many resources, including a “Catholic Grandparent Parish Plan”, there is a brief video from Bishop Cozzens’ mother, Judy Cozzens, and a beautiful prayer for grandparents, with more to come.